Anthology

Follow Me into Darkness Reboot Tour

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Five of the top voices in queer romance teamed up last year to give you Follow Me Into Darkness: Five Tales of Carnivale Romance. Their stories were bold, they were decadent, they were achingly sinful. They begged you to remove your masks just once and many of you listened. Their stories looked into the heart of modern day New Orleans and its steamy past, followed an errant queen in disguise, walked through the lush streets of Rio, and then continued straight on into the lofty pages of a Shakespearean soliloquy. 

Mardi Gras is coming fast and Follow Me Into Darkness is back to seduce you. It’s on sale for only 99 cents from 2/26 - 3/5 plus the authors are giving you gifts and treats along the way! 

For one week only, romance writers Santino Hassell, J.R. Gray, J.C. Lillis, Roan Parrish, and Kris Ripper dare you to take off your masks again...but are you ready for what might happen if you do? 


About the Book: 

Carnivale is a time for decadence, for revelry, and for mischief. A time when we shed the figurative masks we wear in everyday life in favor of new ones… ones that allow us to be a little bolder, a little more adventurous, and perhaps a little truer to ourselves. Follow Me Into Darkness is a compilation of original tales of queer romance by five of the premier authors of contemporary romance.

Hurricane by Santino Hassell

Interesting things never happened to Zay. He was the wallflower everyone forgot about as soon as the booze began to flow, and Mardi Gras had never been an exception. But after a chance encounter with a devil-may-care grifter, this year's celebration brings adventure and whirlwind romance.

If We Be Friends by J.C. Lillis

Seventeen-year-old Ven should be flying high—he's playing the title role in a new TV drama about Hamlet's teen years, and tonight they're having a Mardi Gras cast party in a possibly-haunted castle. But Ven's lost all his mirth since his boyfriend suggested they "take a break," so he plans to skip the bash and brood in his trailer all night. Then the exasperating guy who plays Horatio challenges him to a Shakespearean soliloquy-off, and Ven knows his actorly honor is at stake. He says yes to the duel, trudges off to the the party to meet his fate--and finds that more awaits him onstage than a battle of wits and words.

Masked by J.R. Gray

Blistering heat and half-naked masked men as far as the eye can see, but Heath runs into the one face it’s taken him fifteen years to forget. Javier is plagued with a life of regret, but when a second chance confronts him, can he let go of his hang-ups and seize the moment?

The Queen’s Reflection by Kris Ripper

Isah plays the role everyone expects: malleable and cautious, a true queen. But what others see as a queen’s appropriate modesty is really just a disguise for what Isah has never told anyone, the thing no one can ever know.

This body, dressed in the queen’s gowns, is a lie.

Once a year, at carnival, Isah dons someone else’s clothes and becomes them for a night. A young cook in stained whites, or a stableboy in worn breeches. As long as no one gets too close the pretense holds.
Until two strangers look past all the characters and Isah finally exposes the person behind the mask.

Touched by Roan Parrish


Sometimes when he touches people Philippe Rondeau sees their future. It’s erratic and inconvenient, but mostly he’s learned to deal with it. Sure he hasn’t found true love yet, but he has friends and lovers, and is kept busy running his family’s jazz club in Prohibition-era New Orleans. But now it’s Mardi Gras and all bets are off. In the space of one night, Philippe falls under the spell of jazz musician Claude and learns a terrible secret about his powers. If Philippe is certain of anything it’s that the future can be tricky, but the chance at love makes it all seem worthwhile.

GIVEAWAY

Giveaway starts 12 am on 2/26/17 and ends at 12 am on 3/6/17. Giveaway prizes: 1 of 3 (three) $5 Amazon Gift Cards and 1 of 2 (two) e-copies of a backlist book by one of the Follow Me Into Darkness authors. 5 chances to win!

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Erotic romance

Review: Wait for It by Molly O'Keefe

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Title: Wait for It (Everything I Left Unsaid #4)
Author: M. O'Keefe
Date of publication: 28 Feb 2017
Genre/themes: Erotic Romance

Author's links: Website / Twitter / Facebook / Goodreads
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My rating: 4 Stars

Blrub

Tiffany: After fighting for a new life, I don’t want to play the victim anymore. However, with three kids to raise, I’m getting desperate enough to make a deal with the devil. My estranged brother-in-law, Blake, says he just wants to help, but he’s been trouble since I met him. I don’t know if I can believe this kinder, gentler Blake, and there’s a friction between us that has turned into the sweetest chemistry. He could be my salvation . . . or my downfall.

Blake: I haven’t always had Tiffany’s best interests at heart but I’m ready to make up for my sins. Besides, I can’t help admiring her: The girl’s a genuine survivor, tough and lean, with eyes of steel. But the more I get to know Tiffany, the more I want her. Every inch of her. Which means I’m about to make a bad situation a hell of a lot worse. 

Review

This is the fourth book in a series of exceptionally good erotic romances by Molly O'Keefe which I have enjoyed a lot.
From the bits we got from he previous books I was prepare to hate Blake and love Tiffany and it did start that way but the lines between love and hate got blurry pretty fats.

This is a very character driven story focused on character growth and change, exploring one's potential to be a better person, to live a happier life and feel more fulfilled.At the start we have two broken people, both hurt a lot by the same person, Paul, her ex and his brother. Their coping mechanisms have not the the healthiest ones. Blake was emotionally shut down, pouring his emotions into fights on the ring. Tiffany had shut down her body (along with her heart), not letting herself think of her needs, focusing on surviving abuse and taking care of her children.

Their second meeting (after the disastrous first on in The Truth Abut Him) started a long process of getting to know each other, overcoming misgivings and doubts and outright hate initially. It got mixed up desire pretty fast. And there was a dark edge to it, both of them not really denying it but rather making it as impersonal as possible. The whole paying situation did make me uncomfortable a time or two and I think the author wanted the readers to feel that way. M' O'Keefe did an amazing job at conveying the mixture of pleasure and shame it caused them both and how it forced them re-examine their preconceptions about desire, sex, love and ultimately themselves.

This is an intense erotic story, with the same high level of heat as the previous in the series. And with the same emotional depth. This is a story of facing your daemons, of standing up for yourself, of daring to hope. I loved how strong Tiffany was, and even more, how he recognized and admired her strength. All this with him being so strong physically, resilient, taking brutal beating on the ring, just to make himself feel something other that the emotional scars of his past/present.

I liked how the sorry mixed family relations in the whole romance plotline, a feature of the series which I appreciate a lot. The complexity of having a difficult family, how it shapes you and hurts and saves you at the same time. And how there is no magic cure for everything. how love is not always enough. how some people change and become their better self, while others just can't do it. and that's real, that's how life is (in my experience at least) and prefer seeing this in a contemporary romance over a manufactured, cheesy HEA where everyone ends up being the good person in the story.

Purchase links: Amazon / B&N / Kobo / iBooks

giveaway

Retro Review Tour for Foxes by Suki Fleet

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Blurb

When Dashielís body is found dumped on an East London wasteland, his best friend Danny sets out to find the killer. But Danny finds interaction difficult and must keep his world small in order to survive. By day he lives in an abandoned swimming pool and fixes electrical devices to trade for supplies, but by night, alone, he hunts sharksóa reckless search for dangerous men who prey on the vulnerable.

A chance meeting with an American boy selling himself on the streets throws this lonely existence into disarray. Micky is troubled, fragile, and Danny feels a desperate need to protect himófrom what, he doesn't know. As Danny discovers more about Micky, he realizes that what Micky needs saving from is the one thing Danny can't help him fight against.

To save Micky, Danny must risk expanding his world and face something that scares him more than any shark ever could: trusting he will be accepted for who he is. If a freezing winter on the streets, a sadistic doctor, and three thousand miles don't tear them apart first, that is.

Buy Links: Amazon US | Amazon UK | Dreamspinner
2016 Rainbow Award Winner - Best Gay Young Adult


Review
5 amazing stars

This is my second book by Suki Fleet and I find her style unique and very appealing. This is a very emotional NA story with unforgettable characters which will give you all the feels. It's painful and raw and realistic and deeply sad but also happy and optimistic and magical. I would go as far as to say it reminds me of magical realism - the author brings inexplicable magic even in the most mundane things in life. 

The story is told from Danny's POV, a neuroatypical young man with the biggest heart. He is a true superhero chasing away the bad guys and doing his best to protect those he loves. And he falls in love and overcomes loss and ultimately discovers he is much stronger than he believed himself to be. I loved everything about him. His presence was strong and powerful even when head trouble looking people in the eye or speaking to them. 

Micky, a troubled young man, was just as wonderful. He was not perfect, far weaker and more lost than Danny but at the same time he gave him the greatest gift - acceptance and unconditional love. he saw past his appearance, read his mind and soul and was exactly what Danny needed - a patient and understanding friend/lover/partner. They were a perfect match, giving each strength and confidence and hope for the future.  Micky cherished the care and protection Danny provided and at the same time he was not pushing him towards impossible things but let him find his own strength and worth.

The supporting characters were also deftly drawn and gave richness and depth to the story. I felt deeply for them and rooted for their HEA as much as I did for Danny and Micky.

Reading this story I cried and laughed and hugged my loved ones tightly and got my heart broken and then mended, ending with the goofiest, most happy smile. If you like masterfully written stories with complex characters and intriguing plot, you need to read this book. Be prepared for a rollercoaster of emotions that makes you think and feel and stays with you for a long time after the final page.


Author Bio and Links

Award Winning Author. Prolific Reader (though less prolific than she'd like). Lover of angst, romance and unexpected love stories. 


Suki Fleet writes lyrical stories about memorable characters, and believes everyone should have a chance at a happy ending. 

Her first novel This is Not a Love Story won Best Gay Debut in the 2014 Rainbow Awards, and was a finalist in the 2015 Lambda Awards. 


Email: sukifleet@gmail.com
https://www.instagram.com/suki_fleet/
https://www.facebook.com/suki.fleet.3
https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7919609.Suki_Fleet
http://sukifleet.tumblr.com/
http://sukifleet.wordpress.com/
https://twitter.com/SukiFleet?lang=en

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gamers

Review: Hard Wired by Megan Erickson and Santino Hassell

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Title: Hard Wired (Cyberlove #3)
Authors: Megan Erickson and Santino Hassell
Genre/Themes: Contemporary mm romance / online personas / fandom
Release Date: 13 Feb 2017

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My rating: 3 Stars

Blurb

My FallenCon agenda is simple: sit on a couple of panels and let people meet the real me. Jesse Garvy—mod of a famous Twitch channel and, if I ever come out of my shell, future vlogger. I definitely didn’t plan to sleep with a moody tattooed fan-artist, but he’s gorgeous and can’t keep his hands off me. There's a first time for everything, and my first time with a guy turns out to be the hottest experience of my life.

But the next day, I find out my moody fan-artist is Ian Larsen AKA Cherry—someone I've known online for years. And he'd known exactly who I was while shoving me up against that wall. Before I figure out whether to be pissed or flattered, the con ends.

Now we're back online, and he's acting like nothing happened. But despite the distance between us, and the way he clings to the safety of his online persona, we made a real connection that night. I don't plan to let him forget.

Review 

I've enjoyed both previous books in the series and was looking forward to reading this one. It was nice but sadly not as good as I expected it to be.

I liked the chemistry between the characters and writing symbiosis between the two authors was on point as usual. The world of fandoms, online streamers and vloggers is really far away from me and I found it intriguing and engagingly presented. We have already seen some of it in the first book in the series and the additional details here were rather enjoyable to follow.

Jesse was nice but ultimately he didn't stand out with anything for me. His wholesome nature was the reason for Ian's attraction to him but it was not enough to keep me invested in him deeply enough.

Ian was much more intriguing and his different personas were interesting to read but up to a point. From a certain moment in the story they became as confusing for me as they were for Jesse.

Their chemistry was strong and loved their interactions both in person but especially online via texts and skype. Still, both Jesse and Ian felt too young and imature, so this gave the story a rather NA feel compared with the previous in the series.

What I found distracting and uncomfortable in the story is how many of the situations and jokes between the characters were things the authors had previously shared online on different social media. I won't go as far as to say that they were autobiographical but they were familiar and using them in the story felt like lazy writing to me.

Another issue I had was the whole final quarter of the story and way the most of the conflicts were resolved. It was rushed, too good to be true, sugary sweet ending which didn't fit the realistic nature of the rest of the story, While I was happy with the way things worked out for Jess and Ian, all the rest didn't reading as convincing and authentic. 


Purchase links: Amazon US / Amazon UK / B&N / Kobo / iBooks




Historical Romance

Release Day Launch for An Unseen Attraction by KJ Charles

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My favourite author of queer historical romance, KJ Charles, is releasing a new series, starting today with An Unseen Attraction. She stopped by for a quick chat on her inspiration for these stories, favourite characters and some amazing art for the series.

Blurb

Lodging-house keeper Clem Talleyfer prefers a quiet life. He’s happy with his hobbies, his work—and especially with his lodger Rowley Green, who becomes a friend over their long fireside evenings together. If only neat, precise, irresistible Mr. Green were interested in more than friendship...

Rowley just wants to be left alone—at least until he meets Clem, with his odd, charming ways and his glorious eyes. Two quiet men, lodging in the same house, coming to an understanding... it could be perfect. Then the brutally murdered corpse of another lodger is dumped on their doorstep and their peaceful life is shattered.

Now Clem and Rowley find themselves caught up in a mystery, threatened on all sides by violent men, with a deadly London fog closing in on them. If they’re to see their way through, the pair must learn to share their secrets—and their hearts.

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Purchase links: Publisher / Amazon.com / Kobo


Interview

1. Your new series is coming soon. Can you share what inspired you to write these stories specifically?

KJ: As always, a lot of things kind of bubble away together. I love Victorian Sensation novels (the ones with complicated plots, coincidences, secrets and murder and often a lot of Gothic touches) and I’ve wanted to try my hand at one for ages. I also really wanted to write a series that reflected the real diversity of Victorian London—people of colour, disabled people, nonbinary people, immigrants from all over Europe as well as the back and forth with India, and of course working people with the kind of jobs Victorians had. We tend to have a vague idea of the late Victorians as either putting covers on their piano legs or murdering prostitutes in a dark alley with very little in between. Plus I’ve done a lot of historical romance about lords and earls and gentlemen, and they’re always huge fun, but I was itching to get into the streets a bit more. 

So this series is very much trying to give a flavour of Victorian London outside the drawing rooms but not down in the gutters. We have a lodging-house keeper, a taxidermist, a private detective, a journalist, as well as some more...unconventional professions. It was a lot of fun.

Oh...and the fog. I read an entire book about London fog, including the 1873 fog that was the worst on record and shut down the city for a week, and was immediately compelled to centre a lot of the action around it. How could I not?

2. Speaking of inspiration, contemporary romance writers often have Pinterest boards with celebrities who are their visual inspiration for the characters they create. It must be different for historical romance, so I'm wondering where do you get the ideas for your characters' appearance?

KJ: There are a lot of visual records—paintings, engravings, and the like—as well as a good amount of early photos to use as reference for clothes and general demeanour. I have only once had a celebrity in mind for a character’s appearance (Dominic from A Seditious Affair, a dead ringer for Rufus Sewell). I sometimes find a random photo that looks right, but mostly the characters exist in my head, which is why I am shockingly bad at fan casting. 

3. It's an unfair question but do you have a favourite book/character in the series, whose story are you most excited to share with your readers?

KJ: Hah! Um. I am really fond of Clem in An Unseen Attraction. He’s dyspraxic, which is all too often unrecognised now, let alone in 1873 where the condition was completely undiagnosed, so writing him as a neurotypical person was a lot of work, and I hope I’ve done him justice. He’s basically the heart of the trilogy for reasons which I hope will unfold as we go. 

I also really wanted to write his and Rowley’s relationship. We hear a lot about ‘alpha males’ in romance, and I wanted to write a romance without an alpha male in sight. No posturing and shouting, but strength through kindness and consideration. 

(I am also very fond of Justin Lazarus, the fraudulent Spiritualist in book 2, because he is an absolute stone cold vicious bastard. Bit of a mood change for that one.)

4. You have shared some great art for this series. Can you tell us more about it? 

KJ: The trilogy is based round a pub, the Jack and Knave. I didn’t come up with that name—I offered my Facebook chat group the chance to name it, and reader Darla Sharp had the flash of brilliance. But having got it, I decided that the pub sign was playing cards, and at that point I realised that the extensive cast of characters actually divided pretty much perfectly into face cards of a standard pack. So Clem is the King of Hearts (as above, he’s the heart of the trilogy) with Rowley as his Jack; Justin Lazarus, who lies to people for money, is the Knave of Diamonds. And so on. (I’m not telling you who the Joker is...)

I asked illustrator Mila May to create art for the series as a thank-you extra to readers, and also because I adore her visions for my characters. Plus, the cast of characters is gigantic (I’m doing a family tree and a cast list to help) so I figured a visual aid or two couldn’t hurt...


Author Bio and Links

KJ Charles is a writer and freelance editor. She lives in London with her husband, two kids, an out-of-control garden and an increasingly murderous cat.

KJ writes mostly romance, gay and straight, frequently historical, and usually with some fantasy or horror in there.

Find her on Twitter @kj_charles or on Facebook, join her Facebook group, or get the very occasional newsletter.

Author Interview

New and Debut: Lucy Parker

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Here is another New and Debut post and I'm delighted to introduce to you Lucy Parker, author of contemporary romance. I read her debut novel, Act Like It (review), a romantic comedy set in the theatre world of London and I enjoyed everything about it. I was lucky enough to get an ARC of her next novel, Pretty Face, which comes out on Feb 20 and which in my opinion is even better than her first book. Read on to learn more about Lucy Parker, her upcoming book and a short excerpt from Pretty face. 




Meet Lucy



1. Tell us about yourself and why did you become a romance writer?


I’m probably similar to a lot of people in that I started writing stories at a young age. I was always terrible at maths and science (in fact, I was so bad at science that after an…incident, my high school chemistry teacher had to watch over my shoulder when I was doing practical work, to make sure I didn’t accidentally blow up the lab), but I loved reading and I loved writing. And I was a romance fan from the beginning. Even my long-suffering Barbie and Ken dolls were put through an epic romantic saga. At one point, Barbie had a terrible fall off a cliff (my bed), lost her memory and temporarily dumped Ken. The amnesia trope: never gets old.

It was watching the Colin Firth and Jennifer Ehle version of Pride & Prejudice, though, that really directed me toward romance novels. I loved the miniseries so much that I read the book, my teacher saw me with it at lunchtime and gave me a copy of Jane Eyre to try, then my mum’s best friend showed me her shelf of Georgette Heyer novels, and that was that. I was about twelve when I realised there was an entire section of romance novels at the library, and at that point I might as well have packed a bag and moved in, because I pretty much lived there.

Again, like many people, writing and publishing a novel was my biggest dream, but it took me quite a long time to make that push and think “I can keep saying ‘I want to do this’ forever, but it’s never going to happen if I don’t actually sit down and try.” You really just have to decide one day: “Now. I’m starting it right now.”

2. Can you share some of your favourite books and authors?

I have so many, and different favourites for different times in my life. There are the books that I turn to when I’m stressed and need a laugh, the books that I’ve read so many times that the characters feel like real people to me, the books that have got me through some very difficult times. To name just a tiny few, in a total mix of genres and no order whatsoever: Jane Austen, Georgette Heyer, P.G. Wodehouse, Agatha Christie, Ngaio Marsh, Nalini Singh, Laura Florand, Julia Byrne, Julia Spencer-Fleming, Laurie R. King, Robin D. Owens, Lois McMaster Bujold, J.K. Rowling, Elizabeth Hoyt, Penny Reid, Eileen Wilks, Susanna Kearsley, Laura Kaye, Kresley Cole, J.D. Robb, Carla Kelly, Pamela Clare, Jenn Bennett, Sarah Mayberry and Julianne Donaldson.

In terms of specific titles, a handful of my all-time favourites: Nalini Singh’s Kiss of Snow, Laura Florand’s The Chocolate Rose and The Chocolate Touch, Julianne Donaldson’s Edenbrooke, and Susanna Kearsley’s The Shadowy Horses.

3. Who/what do you consider your writing influence/inspiration?

I don’t know if I could say any one particular author here. I honestly think that the books you read and love become such a part of you that they do shape your personality as you grow and age, and it’s everything you read and see and hear that channels into your own voice.

4. What kind of stories can the readers expect from you (contemporary/historical/sci-fi, adult/NA/YA, etc)?

Adult contemporary romance, but I’d love to try other genres as well in the future.

5. Please, introduce your latest/upcoming release.

My new release, Pretty Face, is out on February 20. It’s a standalone contemporary, but set in the same world as my previous book, Act Like It—the West End theatres of London. The heroine, Lily Lamprey, is an actor on a primetime period drama/soap opera, where she plays one of the villains of the show and is hopelessly typecast as a man-stealing half-wit. Her dream is to make the move into theatre and prove to the skeptics that she can actually act. She sees an upcoming production as her big chance—if she can put up with the bad-tempered director. Meanwhile, iconic director Luc Savage is appalled that he’s being stuck with the “Marilyn Monroe impersonator” who probably needs direction to tie her own shoes. They don’t expect to like each other. They certainly don’t expect to fall in love. And their relationship has the potential to ruin both Lily’s career and Luc’s reputation.



BLURB

Highly acclaimed, award-winning author of Act Like It Lucy Parker returns readers to the London stage with laugh-out-loud wit and plenty of drama 

The play's the fling 

It's not actress Lily Lamprey's fault that she's all curves and has the kind of voice that can fog up a camera lens. She wants to prove where her real talents lie—and that's not on a casting couch, thank you. When she hears esteemed director Luc Savage is renovating a legendary West End theater for a lofty new production, she knows it could be her chance—if only Luc wasn't so dictatorial, so bad-tempered and so incredibly sexy. 

Luc Savage has respect, integrity and experience. He also has it bad for Lily. He'd be willing to dismiss it as a midlife crisis, but this exasperating, irresistible woman is actually a very talented actress. Unfortunately, their romance is not only raising questions about Lily's suddenly rising career, it's threatening Luc's professional reputation. The course of true love never did run smooth. But if they're not careful, it could bring down the curtain on boththeir careers… 

Purchase links: Amazon / B&N / Carina Press


Excerpt

Luc Savage looked like Gregory Peck, circa some dapper time between Roman Holiday and To Kill A Mockingbird. There was more bulk in the shoulders, silver in the hair and darkness in the soul; otherwise, the resemblance was uncanny. Lily had seen him once before, at an opening night for another director’s play. The theatre had been full of famous faces that night, and the production distractingly bad, and she hadn’t paid him any particular attention. Her mental image of him had been formed more closely and recently by Jamie’s faithfully repeated insults, so she’d been expecting something more along the lines of an orc.

Any resemblance to Old Hollywood charm ended at his bone structure.

He stood in the doorway to his office, surveying her. When she’d arrived, his secretary had also done a head-to-toe sweep, and then shaken her head in apparent disbelief, which hadn’t built Lily’s confidence.

She stared back at him, directly into his unimpressed grey eyes. She had put a stranglehold on her nerves during the long wait, dialling back from jiggling knees to a bit of subtle nail-picking.

Yet all of a sudden, she wasn’t nervous at all.

This was Luc Savage. Award-winning, career-making, ego-curdling Luc Savage. Get-in-my-way-and-I’ll-crush-you-like-a-bug Luc Savage. And her driving instinct was to touch the tips of her boots to his—and then stand her ground until he stepped back first.

Her spine prickled.

After a long pause that was too charged to be awkward, he stepped forward and extended a hand. “Luc Savage.”

She glanced down at his fingers wrapped around hers. “Lily Lamprey.”

They released each other’s hands; their eyes met again.

Game on.


Author Bio and Links

Lucy Parker lives in the gorgeous Central Otago region of New Zealand, where she feels lucky every day to look out at mountains, lakes, and vineyards. She has a degree in Art History, loves museums and art galleries, and doodles unrecognizable flowers when she has writer’s block. 

When she’s not writing, working or sleeping, she happily tackles the towering pile of to-be-read books that never gets any smaller. Thankfully, there’s always another story waiting. 

Her interest in romantic fiction began with a pre-teen viewing of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice (Firth-style), which prompted her to read the book as well. A family friend introduced her to Georgette Heyer, and the rest was history.


Author Interview

New and Debut: Daria Defore

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New and Debut feature is back, on Friday and today it's my pleasure to introduce to you Daria Defore, author of LGBT romance. Her debut novel, The Trouble, was published in the end of last year by Less Than Three Press. Read on for a short interview with her,a s well as an exclusive excerpt from her upcoming queer fantasy Sparkwood, coming out on Feb 15.



Meet Daria

1. Tell us about yourself and why did you decide to become a romance writer?
Hi! I’m Daria, and I’m a Washington state transplant who recently moved to New York City. I came into writing romance from writing — or reading, really — fanfiction. I am drawn to romance because of those elements it shares with the fanfiction I grew up with: whatever the heck kind of plot you want, plus scintillating tension between interesting characters.
Growing up, I thought the only avenue for publishing queer fiction would be self-publishing, or writing fanfiction. Then I went to the Gay Romance Northwest conference in Seattle and realized the world was exploding with queer publishing houses. My best friend (Austin Chant!) and I were writing stories together at the time, and I think we both just realized, hey, we could make a go of this.
It feels wild now to look back on that time when we literally thought there were no other options for queer romance. Like, what were we thinking? But that just speaks to the need for more visibility for these presses, because I know there are tons of people out there, like me, who want to read these books and just don’t know they exist.


2. Can you share some of your favourite books and authors?

So this is no surprise if you've ever spoken to me, but I adore KJ Charles. I got into her by consuming Think of England over the course of one night (I am not a fast reader by any means, so for me this remains A Feat). After I finished Sparkwood, I reread Think of England as a treat to myself, and my God—every piece of dialogue in that book is fantastic. It took me twice as long to read because I was lovingly doubling over every paragraph, making sure I had read it with the exact right inflection in my mind.
Jackdaw is another favorite from KJ Charles, because it's ultimately about flawed characters making homes for themselves. It's brimming with emotion and I flail when I reread it.
Be My Fantasy by Alisha Rai is painfully, stupefyingly hot. It has a couple exploring D/s-based fantasies and it's just exquisitely filthy, no shying away from it. Loved it.
In the same vein, Straight Shooter by Heidi Belleau has a bi MC who is turned on by humiliation. He's also, you know, figuring out that he's not straight and going about it in the worst, most self-destructive way. I love garbage-fire main characters, and this one is out to ruin his own life. I love the balancing act that Belleau pulls off here, writing a really fraught story that's still very sexy.
The Enlightenment trilogy by Joanna Chambers, which starts with Provoked, is an epic Scottish regency romance that had me yelling and flailing as I devoured page after page, too eager to find out what would bring the main characters together — or push them apart.


3. Who/what do you consider your writing influence/inspiration?
Agatha Christie’s mysteries are legendary, and I love them. I still can’t believe one person could write so many books in their lifetime. I’ve been reading Agatha Christie since I was a tween, and I’m nowhere near close to reading her whole bibliography. I admire her ability to balance huge casts of characters, while writing such snappy, concise murder mysteries. A lot of them scared the crap out of me!
On the fantasy side, I love Garth Nix’s Abhorsen series. His world-building grabbed me, and I absolutely ripped him off when I was fifteen and writing (bad) fantasy. I want to create settings as fascinating as Nix’s Old Kingdom, and creatures as horrifying as… well, all his horrible creations.
When it comes to marrying all this together, I have to call out KJ Charles again. I love what she does with mystery and romance in Think of England, and fantasy and romance (and mystery!) in her Magpie series.


4. What kind of stories can the readers expect from you (contemporary/historical/sci-fi, adult/NA/YA, etc)?
Ooh boy, a year ago I would’ve had a totally different answer to this! I’ve been writing contemporary for a long time. It's easier for me to find comedy in contemporary scenarios, I think (and being funny is Very Important to me). But I grew up reading fantasy and murder mysteries, and those themes have become a focus of my planned projects.
My upcoming books could both be summarized as, “oh no, I have a magical boyfriend.” One is a contemporary fantasy murder mystery (Sparkwood! More on that later), and the other is a historical fantasy with ghosts and demons. Uh, no literal demon-kissing in this one though. Maybe. Kinda.
I’m not totally done with straight-up contemporary (I have an aromantic contemporary F/F story on the back-burner), and of course my fantasy projects will still have comedy. I guess that’s the common thread between them. That and throwing together characters who are polar opposites and watching the chaos that ensues.


5. Please, introduce your latest/upcoming release.
My upcoming book, Sparkwood, is about a guy named Finn who just wants an aggressively normal life. Of course, that’s practically impossible. He grew up in Sparkwood, a small town that shares its forest with a city of fairies. He’s bisexual. And he’s a twin—only, his twin brother has just been found dead.
It’s a contemporary fantasy murder mystery, with a cis m/m romance plot. Finn goes looking for someone to hold responsible for his brother’s death, and along the way he runs into Robin: an equally prickly, angry, queer guy who also happens to be a fairy. Together they conduct a rather inept murder investigation, strike unbreakable deals, get into magical trouble, and more shenanigans.
Sparkwood is coming out on February 15, 2017! It’s part of LT3’s enemies-to-lovers collection, My Dearest Enemy (along with Peter Darling, from my friend Austin Chant!).


Blurb

Finn has never trusted faeries, so it's no surprise to him when his twin brother turns up dead, probably by magical means. What he doesn't expect is an invitation to the funeral—in the faery realm—and a chance to find out who killed him.

Investigating Luke's death is probably the stupidest thing Finn has ever done, and soon he's up to his neck in faery trouble. In the midst of it all is Robin, the faery who's supposed to be watching out for him—but who just might have had something to do with Luke's death.

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Pre-order links: Less Than Three Press





Excerpt

At one in the morning, Finn woke to a figure standing over him. It was completely dark, minus the red light of his digital clock, and Finn was sure he was going to die.

He had spent most of his life facing off against people who wanted to hurt him on the football field. He couldn't count the times he'd charged headlong into guys his size or bigger and taken them down with pure momentum.

Yet somehow, his first instinct was to grab his pillow and throw it. It hit the dark silhouette square in the head. A muffled yelp followed, and Finn gathered his legs under him and launched.

They both dropped like sacks of potatoes, with Finn pinning the smaller person underneath him and provoking a clear cry of pain. In football, that would've been the end of it. The ref would whistle and they'd all get into position for the next play. 

Finn lashed out with his fist.

It hit skin with a smack. Then he scrambled to his feet and raced to the living room.

Julie was still asleep on the couch, and she didn't even twitch when Finn tripped to his knees and shook her.

"Julie, wake up!"

She didn't move, her face slack with sleep. A hand closed on Finn's shoulder and he struck out, fists swinging.

"Mr. Bricket—" Whatever the intruder was going to say was stopped short as Finn's fist collided with what must have been his sternum. He grunted. Finn's knuckles hurt like hell, but he powered to his feet. 

This time, the intruder caught Finn's swing in a surprisingly tight grip. Finn lunged forward, trying to use his weight to bring them back to the floor, but instead found himself being dragged across the room and slammed into the wall so hard that the air whooshed from his lungs. Pain blossomed in his wrist, where the intruder was now squeezing him with icy fingers. 

"Keep still—"

Finn didn't.

His fist stopped in mid-air. He couldn't move it anymore. Then a real hand, a cold one, grabbed him and pinned that wrist to the wall, too. Finn's size advantage seemed to count for nothing.

"Listen to me," the intruder insisted. His voice was soft, and it made Finn's skin crawl.

"Did you kill her?"

There as a notable pause before the intruder asked in disbelief, "What?" Something popped, like wood in a fireplace, and light shone straight into Finn's eyes. 

Finn's lip curled. The man pinning him to the wall was indeed a good foot smaller than him, with a delicate face and hair that glinted red in the flickering ball of light hovering next to his raised hand. The fairy from the diner. His glassy black eyes sent chills down Finn's spine.

"What did you do to my friend?" Finn croaked. "The girl on the couch."

"She's asleep. This needs to be a private discussion."

"Private? You could privately murder me in my sleep if it's so fucking important."

"I didn't kill her, and I'm not going to kill you." The fairy's narrow brows furrowed in annoyance. Perfect. Didn't all the kidnapping stories start with saying the wrong thing to a fairy? And Finn had hurt him, too. A purple bruise was starting to show on the fairy's right cheek. 

"You're hurting my wrist." As Finn's adrenaline faded, the ache became clearer. His wrist pulsed under the fairy's cold grip. It was like being restrained by an ice pack. 

But the fairy ignored him; he was taking in the unholy mess that surrounded them. Julie and Finn had added empty beer bottles to the junk that filled the house. The fairy nudged a fallen book with his foot, then glared at Finn.

"What were you doing with his things?"

"Throwing them in the garbage."

The fairy bristled, whether at Finn's tone or his words, he couldn't tell. "Clem, come in here."

He had barely raised his voice, but the front door opened and the fairy woman—Clem, whom he also recognized from the diner—came in. Her eyebrows rose at the sight of Finn pinned to the wall.

"Robin, that's a bit unnecessary."

"He hit me."

"I'm sure he won't do it again."

"I thought you were here to kill me," Finn gritted out, "because that's what people think when you break in in the middle of the night and watch them sleep." Robin let go of his wrists, and Finn fell to his knees with a thud. A heavy, invisible pressure settled on his legs. "Ow—"

"I think I would like him questioned after all," Robin said. 


Author Bio and Links

Daria Defore is a writer by night, and a video producer by day. She's been writing ever since she was a kid, and vividly remembers that her first story was about visiting Santa Claus and getting a pet dinosaur. Now she writes filthy romance instead.

Daria is a Washington transplant living in New York City. She has a tendency to set stories in her beautiful home state. She loves reading, cups of coffee in multiples of ten, and being bullied to write more.


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